Warren Philharmonic opens season with family concert
By GUY D’ASTOLFO
The Warren Philharmonic Orchestra will open its season Sunday with “Strange and Amazing Voyages,” a family-oriented concert featuring Susan Hagen on double bass.
The concert will begin at 3 p.m. at Christ Episcopal Church, 2627 Atlantic St. NE. Art by area schoolchildren from the annual Music In Art contest will be shown, and there will be an instrumental “petting zoo” — at which children can get close to the musicians and their instruments — during intermission.
The program will include the “Abu Hassan Overture” by Weber, Romanian folk dances by Bartok, Mozart’s “Haffner” symphony, plus works by De Falla and Bottesini’s concerto for double bass No. 2, featuring Hagen.
A Boston native, Hagen is a freelance player, soloist and chamber musician. She has been performing as an extra player with the Boston Symphony Orchestra for the past eight seasons and serves as a bassist with the Boston Pops/Pops Esplanade Orchestra.
A frequent guest lecturer at Bostons’s Berklee College of Music and Harvard University, Hagen is on the faculty at the Boston Conservatory of Music, Gordon College Music Department and the New England Conservatory Preparatory School. She also is the bass coordinator for the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras.
Susan Davenny Wyner, music director and conductor of the WPO, said the orchestra has launched several projects this season to engage young people and stimulate their minds.
One such program is the series of free concerts played in Warren-area schools. Information about the music and the instruments, as well as CDs, are sent in advance to each school.
At the concerts, the students learn the stories behind the music and hear each instrument as players stand to give solo demonstrations.
“For many, this is the first orchestra they have ever seen or heard live,” said Wyner.
In the WPO’s Music in Art Contest, now in its sixth year, Trumbull County students draw pictures in response to the music the orchestra performs. A jury of professional artists selects the winners, and prizes are awarded to the children while their drawings are projected at the WPO’s opening concert.
Wyner calls the art “captivating glimpses into the minds of students.”
Another unique program is Strings of Joy, in which the WPO — in collaboration with the Warren City Schools Century21 After School Program — puts stringed instruments in the hands of children and give them free lessons.
Local students in the nationwide program will perform with the WPO on April 27 in the world premiere of “Strings of Joy.” Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Yehudi Wyner wrote the piece exclusively for the program.